As a strategist, I often recommend that clients embark on the development of a document called a ‘Style Guide’. In the advertising industry they can be called many things: ‘Standards Document’, ‘Brand Manual’, ‘Logo Requirements’. But what makes one so important? Why do we recommend them so strongly?
Lets look at an example. Joe owns a shoe shop which has its own logo. He emails the logo over to a signwriter to put on his store front. The signwriter completes the signage, and utilises an orange paint that looks very different to the particular type of orange in Joe’s logo. Joe insists that the colour is different, however has nothing to back up his claim other than an electronic logo file, which, as the signwriter points out, looks very different printed on paper than on a computer screen. How, therefore how could the signwriter possibly know which type of orange to use; he did his best under the circumstances. Joe is furious, but pays his bill and decides to get on with business, lacking the additional funds to fight his claim, or to get the
A Style Guide is your insurance policy against such a situation. It is, essentially, a document which instructs various suppliers on what can and can’t be done with your logo. It stipulates the size, amount of white space, colour, typeface etc. that must be used, and allows no room for individual interpretation. It allows you to hand a supplier the document, and make it very clear that anything that deviates from the manual will not be paid.
Let me give you another reason, the most important reason, as to why a Style Guide is so important, reverting to the previous example.
Joe leaves his sign as it is, hoping customers don’t notice. One day he noticed a lady walk in the door, see the sign, then walk out again. Later, she returns, looking confused. ‘I was looking for the shop that had the advertisement in the paper. I thought it was this one but your sign looks different to what was in the paper. Am I in the right place?’. Lucky for Joe, this lady asked him to clarify her confusion. Many would just give up, or go to a competitor.
I think this extract from an article written by Karin K. Schaff called Imprinting Your Brand on Your Client’s Mind sums it up really well:
“When you constantly tweak or reinvent your brand to make it “match” certain environments, you weaken your logo’s familiarity among your clients. When you change the design of your logo each time, you’re breaking the visual relationship you’ve created with that client. You’re forcing clients to “re-engage” or be “re-introduced” to your practice each time”
Simply put, if you keep your promise to the consumer, you keep their custom.